What is Destination Addiction?

How to Stop Thinking about What Comes Next

Do you live your life only to get to the end of it? Most people answer this question with a “no,” but not everyone lives like they mean it. In the manic society that most of us experience, people exhibit a frantic, neurotic behavior I call “Destination Addiction.” This addiction is a major block to success. People who suffer from Destination Addiction believe that success is a destination. They are addicted to the idea that the future is where success is, happiness is, and heaven is. Each passing moment is merely a ticket to get to the future. They live in the “not now,” they are psychologically absent, and they disregard everything they have. Destination Addiction is a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is somewhere else. We suffer, literally, from the pursuit of happiness. We are always on the run, on the move, and on the go. Our goal is not to enjoy the day, it is to get through the day. We have always to get to somewhere else first before we can relax and before we can savor the moment. But we never get there. There is no point of arrival. We are permanently dissatisfied. The feeling of success is continually deferred. We live in hot pursuit of some extraordinary bliss we have no idea how to find. Destination Addiction is a nonstop approach to inner peace. We are like runaway trains bound for a station called NEXT. We embark on fast-track careers that are all about the next position, the next raise, and the next stop. Our current work is just a stepping-stone or a parking lot, where we hang out waiting for the next good opportunity. In the meantime we celebrate the end of the day, we say “Thank God it’s Friday,” and we recover on the weekends. Everything will be better soon. The life we dream of is in the future somewhere, and we hope to catch up with it any day now. Destination Addiction causes us to rush through as many experiences as quickly as possible. We like to be able to say “Been there, done that!” A typical example is the popular package tours that visit eight European capital cities in a week. Surely, though, life isn’t just about getting things done. Surely, life is not all about endings. If it were, we would read only abridged novels; we would attend only the final act of a play at the theater; the last note of a symphony would be best of all; the best restaurants would serve only petits fours; and sex would have no foreplay.

We suffer, literally, from the pursuit of happiness. We are always on the run, on the move, and on the go. Our goal is not to enjoy the day, it is to get through the day.

Destination Addiction is an attempt to get on with life faster in the hope that we will enjoy our lives better. And yet our constant speeding means we frequently run past golden opportunities for grace and betterment. We are so harassed by the insecurity of our forward-seeking ego that we have no idea what it means to live by the grace of God. We seek, but we do not find. If only we could stop a while and let wisdom and grace show us a better way. “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things,” wrote novelist Henry Miller. I think of grace as being the potential for a better way that is present in every situation. Grace is the ability to let yourself be inspired. It is letting yourself be touched by the highest intelligence and wisdom available. Our job is not to acquire grace, it is to accept it. We simply have to make it welcome. In other words, we have to be receptive. Our Destination Addiction often works against us, however, because we are too busy running to be receptive. Hence, we always feel empty. Here are some more symptoms of Destination Addiction:

  • Whatever you are doing, you are always thinking about what comes next.
  • You cannot afford to stop because you always have to be somewhere else.
  • You are always in a hurry even when you don’t need to be.
  • You always promise that next year you will be less busy.
  • Your dream home is always the next home you plan to buy.
  • You don’t like your job but it has good prospects for the future.
  • You never commit fully to anything in case something better comes along.
  • You hope the next big success will finally make you happy.
  • You always think you should be further ahead of where you are now.
  • You have so many forecasts, projections, and targets that you never enjoy your life.

The German mystic Thomas ˆ Kempis observed, “Whatever you do, do it with intelligence, and keep the end in view.” This is a great truth. It is similar to the popular aphorism “Begin with the end in mind.” The words “the end” have two different meanings. One meaning is “the finish,” i.e., the end of a project, or the end of your career. The other meaning is “the purpose,” i.e., your vision, your values, etc. The trouble with Destination Addiction is that it focuses purely on finishes and not on purpose. To live intelligently is to live with purpose, to make the means the end, and also the end the means. The end is in every moment.

Excerpted from my book, Authentic Success.

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